If you listen to your local, national public radio station, you’re probably familiar with The Moth. Specifically, The Moth radio hour, an hour worth of curated stories from people’s lives that entertain and inform us all about life and the human condition. Each story is a true story from the storyteller’s life and what they share can be humorous, emotional, heartfelt, but basically always leaves you feeling a little more connected to humanity than you did before – or at least it does for me. I love listening to people’s stories. I love connection. So I really love The Moth.
I’ve fantasized about being on The Moth radio hour, but it’s a long road to get there, and it starts with StorySlams. The Moth hosts StorySlams in various cities across the country that are centered around a specific theme. Storytellers then coming to the event put their name in the proverbial hat and destiny decides whether they will share that story or not. Each story is judged by random people in the audience, and the winner of the night goes onto a GrandSlam where they compete against other StorySlam winners. The stories that get onto The Moth Radio Hour are curated from the Moth Mainstage, which is another level of The Moth that I assume one gets to by winning a GrandSlam.
It’s a journey, and one I am ready to embark on. I’ve been called an oversharer. I definitely identify as being a writer. So why not! Last night I attended my first Moth StorySlam. I crafted a story around the topic of control, and then decided it wasn’t good enough to perform – so I just went to observe. Since I was a newbie, I felt just getting a lay of the land would be good and I’m so glad I gave myself the grace to try and then know when I may be out of my realm. Well, after listening to fabulous stories, and not so great presenters of stories, and stories that weren’t even on topic – I have COMPLETE confidence that anything I write is worthy of my name in the hat. And really, I can only get better with each try. So I’m going to keep on trying.
When you attend a StorySlam, slips of paper with a question around the topic is on the chairs, and people can write a two sentence story around the topic to toss into a box. Last night the topic was “Control, ” and the question was, “When was there a time you felt you had lost control.” I wrote four sentences that outline the story I’m going to share below. The host read my slip of paper, the audience laughed, and she ended by saying, “That’s not a two sentence story, that’s an existential crisis.” I loved it. But her saying it was an existential crisis was sort of the reason my instincts said to not share my story because it didn’t feel like a story, it felt more like an essay.
Later in the evening, Dan and I ran into a few of the people who were also at the StorySlam, and I had confessed which slip of paper was mine. They burst into laughter and astonishment in being able to relate to my life existential crisis and encouraged me to share my stories – because it seemed like I could tell a good one.
So without further ado – here is my story around the theme of “CONTROL.”
(please note this is the first and only draft)
On paper, I look like a free-spirited wild thing. As my mother likes to call it, I’ve dabbled in many fields. Actress. Music journalist. Art curator. Social Media Manager. I never finished college, and I quit my job without a real backup plan to drive across the country for a month. Little do most people know, except my loving – and very new husband. I’m a control freak. I control the elements of spontaneity in my life. I construct reasons and motivations and purpose behind every action. And what I’ve realized is that you don’t really notice the element of control in life, until it starts slipping. A car accident. A missed deadline for work.
But nothing makes me feel so out of control like dog pee.
I am the loving owner of a dorkie Yorkie. She’s a rescue, who found me. I’m sure all dog owners think this about their dogs, but my dog is really smart. I didn’t even really have to potty train her. She uses wee-wee pads, and there is a doggy door she has access too from 6 am in the morning to 9 pm at night. But in May she got really sick and is now on a regimen of steroids that makes her pee like a racehorse. Every other day her actually getting her urine on the wee-wee pad or decide to pee outdoors is like Russian roulette. Yet, despite the logic- knowing it’s the medication and not me. When I see a puddle of pee on the hardwood floor, my world crumbles, and I’ve lost control. In her urine reflect my failures. Despite following my heart like the Disney Princess advised or the motivational coffee cup with gold calligraphy, I am struggling. I’ve left too much up to chance, and every decision in my life from deciding to join Drama Class in the eighth grade to not applying for college scholarships has resulted in me cleaning up dog pee.
On my hands and knees soaking up her steroid smelling pee with the wee-wee pad she missed. I’ve failed myself, my husband, my parents, my clients, my friends, the Starbucks employees and the isolated tribe in the Amazon because I didn’t put enough wee-wee pads down on the floor, or pick them up after they’ve been used, or train my dog properly to not pee on the hardwood floors. My life is the funky smelling urine that I have to clean up every other day based on the Veterinarian recommended dosage. And just like the urine that only I can clean up, because when I see my husband clean it up – it then is a metaphor for my ineptitude. That I won’t be a success, that my big dreams won’t be fulfilled, and the tiny goals to reach it can’t be accomplished – because I can’t even clean up the dog pee that was my fault for landing on the wooden floor anyways…
The pee is cleaned up. It’s a 2-minute process, 5 minutes on a bad day.
No more urine. And no more feelings of failure.
Cause it’s just dog pee.
And if I didn’t join Drama Class I would have never pursued acting, and I would have never graduated High School a semester early. And if I had applied for college scholarships, I would have never juggled three internships at one time that led me to work for my favorite art gallery for the last 10 years. And not cleaning up this pee, means I wouldn’t have the joy of my dorky Yorkie Loulou Edie Reed – named after Lou Reed and Edie Sedgwick.
I have as much control over the outcome of my life as I do of controlling my free willed Lou and if she pees on the floor or not. I can only control my effort to avoid an unsavory circumstance, but yet if found in one – I remind myself to clean up the mess and try again. At least tomorrow she won’t be on the steroid, and won’t need to pee so much.
If I had decided to perform the story, I would have gone over it a few more times. I would have refined it and made sure it fit the 5 minute time frame. The above is a 25-minute rough draft. Also, don’t know why I’m trying to make so many excuses for it. Let it go. Let go of control. This is just a personal blog post — about the long journey to the moth stage in front of me.